Porter Hovey, Teenage Silversmith

Sunday, May 31, 2009 14 comments
Porter and I went to a pretty great high school. Of course there were the normal tortures, but if you look back with nostalgia, it's a place where boys with shaggy hair and Vasque Sundowners would climb on desks to scream and argue Hobbes and Hume, we read - and understood - Toni Morrison, we challenged our rival school in an annual charity can drive so overwhelmingly successful that they had to bring in engineers to make sure the floor could support all the corn and beans...and we had Mr. Crawford, master silversmith.  It's quite wonderful when you can make your own sterling silver jewelry in high school - and Mr. Crawford helped make these projects shine.  He'd had polio as a kid, which affected one of his hands, but it didn't affect his brilliant craftsmanship.  Porter took his class for five semesters (I, shouldered with the academic expectations of a first born child, was forced to take Calc 2 and AP physics and chemistry, while Porter spent her time at a buffing wheel).  By the time you'd reached Jewelry 5, lost wax rings were a thing of the past - replaced by box construction and hinges.  These were her two masterpieces - a zebra cuff and an envelope box.  Just beautiful.
Oui! The Two of Us Sisters Do Appear Together in Photos

Friday, May 29, 2009 17 comments
And, oui, the blinding patch of light (the pharmacy cabinet) desperately needs shelves and booze! 

Photographer Val√©rie Dray shot a few "Creative New Yorkers" including our good friends Joanna Goddard and Alex Williams -- and us -- for www.menstyle.fr.  So fun!

There's that black wall I show you all so much.  In other news that would make a landlord cry (besides painting gigantic walls black), I went to Home Depot to get some paint for my bathroom door on Wednesday and came home with a new door knob and a faucet.  Being overly confident from the knob installation, I attempted the faucet, but after unhooking the water supply, I discovered that the plastic bolts holding the old one on must be glued into place.  So, I tried to reconnect the water lines to the old faucet - and now no water will flow. So much for being handy.  I'll figure this out. Just don't tell my landlord.
Aesthetic Perfection Campaign | Best of Schotten

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 9 comments
More follow up on the Aesthetic Perfection Campaign, these are some of my favorites from Manfred Schotten's sporty shop. Add stripes to a car - you'll ruin it; add them to a luxury bag, you'll make it marvelous. The first Gladstone I've seen with these spectacular accoutrements.  The tasteful "BWM" was Bertram Wagstaff Mills (August 1873 – April 16, 1938), a British circus owner whose circus became famous in the UK for its Christmas shows at Olympia in West London. His troop were the last to perform with live animals on the Drury Lane Theatre stage. (Sold - grrrrr).

A circa 1900 cast iron umbrella/stick stand. GBP 2600.

Roe Deer head mount, shot in Siberian, Chinese Turkestan in 1907; taxidermied by Rowland Ward.  Lt. Col J. W. Price, Henley Hall of Ludlow exhibited it at the international Big Game Exhibition in Berlin 1937. It still bears its gold medal with pride. GBP 895.

1930s ski boots. GBP 145.
Porter Pleads Polaroid's Case for the NY Times

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 3 comments
Yesterday's New York Times paid homage to the potential Polaroid saviors at the Impossible Project -- and let Porter weigh in on the devastation that ensued after the announcement that the world's most modern nostalgic photography medium would be discontinued. Click here to hear Porter extoll in the interactive feature that accompanied the story (she's on slides #4 and #12). 

(Polaroid of Fiat 500 Jolly parked outside John Derian on 2nd Street by Porter Hovey).
Greatest from the Great Escape

Monday, May 25, 2009 4 comments
Following up on the previous post, these are a few of my favorite items from the Christopher Clarke/Manfred Schotten Antiques charity sale, The Great Escape. The skis, the boots and the telescope are still available, and the rest can provide a litany of inspiration.  Above: 1920s wicker picnic seat, believed to have come gratis with the purchase of a Rolls Royce.

These '20s era suede riding boots were made by Bartley & Sons for the 5th Duke of Sutherland (1888 - 1963).  They come with the original boot trees for £340.

Mid-to-late 19th century Army mail bag.

1940s "Splitkein" Folding Skiis.  Splitkein or "split cane" are Norwegian skis, constructed by thin layers of wood glued together over the full lengths of the skis. They were one of the first real complex laminated skis and only invented in the late 1930’s, when the glue that was strong enough became available. £540.

Highly portable Paragon folding chairs.

Nippon binoculars circa 1950. Available for £9,800.
The Aesthetic Perfection Campaign

Monday, May 25, 2009 4 comments
It's not every day that a stranger sends you a package of treasures. In a wildly generous, glorious move, reader Pam Foster was kind enough to dispatch me a little bundle of joy - catalogues that catalogue almost everything I find beautiful.  It's a treat beyond compare.  

She and her husband recently returned from the Cotswolds where they visited two of what must be the world's greatest shops - Christopher Clarke Antiques and Manfred Schotten Antiques.  Mr. Clarke specializes in campaign furniture, while Mr. Schotten likes to focus on sport. Both are equally amazing. These are some of the covers of the Christopher Clarke catalogues, including The Great Escape, a a now-passed charity sale, for which both shops teamed up to sell a bunch of items celebrating those who paid no heed to boundaries.

More to come!

(Pam -- thank you so much.  It's all just too cool!).
Quicker Wicker

Thursday, May 21, 2009 7 comments

The 1920s German Hanomag 'Korbwagen' offered speedsters a wallet-friendly alternative to the all-steel model known as the 'Kommissbrot' (which is pretty damned great looking, as well). Detroit, take note: While wicker construction may allow for unsightly things to happen to crash test tummies, it would help hybrids look exponentially more attractive - and green. 

Ebay Shopping | Motoring Picnic Basket

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 5 comments
And for those who choose to spend Memorial Day picnicking with a lover who drives a really great old car...(with just two butter knives, you'll have to feed each other by hand - or ask that lonely hobo boy next to you if you can borrow his spoon/knife/cork screw thingy).

Bids for this old 1910s Drew & Sons (Piccadilly, London) cloth and leather motoring picnic set sit at about $225. (That flask is calling to me!)

If you're into the more traditional variety that actually still have plates and full sets of utensils, check out this batch of greatness.
Wheeeeee! (Continued...with a little less Wheee!)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 4 comments
In response to the zebra jumping post a few days back, one astute reader sent me a glorious link explaining how a few brave men dared to tame those striped beauties (and reindeer and yaks and pigs...and ostriches).  My father's family had their run with the latter:

My Great Aunt Virginia "Ginnie" taking control in Pasadena...

...her brother, my Grandpa Bill, in the midst of an even more thrilling ride.
A Cut Above | Hamilton Shirts

Monday, May 18, 2009 9 comments
Hamilton, America's oldest custom shirt maker, is now offering up the world's softest shirts in their Platinum Collection with Thomas Mason, the venerable (formerly British, now Italian) fabric maker.  We're talking 2-ply yarn with an unheard of yarn count of up to 300 (yarn count is based on the length and thickness of the thread, not like the "thread count" per-inch measure associated with sheets).  You just pick your fabric from the book and then Hamilton dispatches your order off to Italy where the Thomas Mason folks cut just enough for you and send it back to Houston where all the Hamilton shirts have been made since 1883. You can go full Bespoke or opt for the slightly more simple made-to-measure.

I met with the newest generation (the fourth) of shirt-making Hamiltons at Barneys last week to see the fabrics and hear the story.  Kelly and her brother David took over the family business a couple years ago.  They never felt pressure to grow up and make shirts. "In fact, it was just the opposite," Kelly said.  David started at Lehman, ("It wasn't my fault," he said); Kelly started recruiting for oil and gas and then worked in development for the Houston Ballet.  But they eventually came back to 5700 Richmond Ave., the company's HQ for the last 31 years.

(Above: The original Hamilton Factory on Main Street near the landmark Rice Building in 1883).
Hamilton customers come in all forms, they said.  Simon Doonan from Barneys wears nothing else. Big Texas ranchers often order theirs Western-style. New Yorkers even order black. "In Connecticut, it's all blue and white," David said. As expected, the Southerners are more colorful. 

(Above: The pattern library)

I've gone all Connecticut and ordered a classic blue and white stripe with two buttons at the neck (for extra popping height) and an HHH monogram on the right cuff. Am practically shaking in anticipation! Given that my men's shirt collection comes from years of trawling thrift stores for old Thomas Pink, Brooks Brothers and Polo at around $3.50 a pop, this is a tremendous leap forward.


...storefront, early 1900s...

...a fabric assortment.
As Seen At Whole Foods...

Friday, May 15, 2009 15 comments
It's horrifying when people start using decorative home objects for legitimate purposes! Ostrich Eggs (with the yolky bits), $39.99 each.
Ebay Shopping | L'Album De La Guerre

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 7 comments

L'Album De La Guerre: Histoire Photographique Et Documenaire Reconstituee Chronologiquement A L'Aide De Cliches Et De Dessins Publies Par L'Illustration De 1914 A 1921. Leather-bound 1923 editions (roughly 650 pages in each of the two volumes) with full French text, oodles of amazing images and maps. You can buy the two volumes now for GBP 129.99 or take your chances by entering the bidding fray (if you win, shipping these tomes to the States ain't cheap - GBP 65.90).

Ahead of Mother's Day, a Few Notes on Lana Hovey

Friday, May 08, 2009 16 comments
A few of mom's things...There must be a gene or something in amniotic fluid that triggers a love of luxury goods, equestrian aesthetics, animal parts and symbols of war. She used the Vuitton to carry my diapers.

1) She claimed to be 5'11 3/4" - but she was at least two inches taller than Porter and I, who measure in roughly at 5'11" (Porter has a few millimeters on me). 

2a) She would have given her right arm to get into the Mademoiselle magazine internship program after college. She applied to that and a summer program at Radcliffe. She got Radcliffe, not the internship. It crushed her. But Radcliffe changed her life...and she started a job at Mademoiselle the week after the program ended.

2b) While at Radcliffe, she attended a small lecture by a tall Harvard Med student who'd just written his first novel, The Andromeda Strain.  He asked her out. She, being too shy, said "no" and gave up any chances of being Mrs. Michael Chrichton.

3) She called my dad (also named Porter) Posengaze; He called her Lanereeze. These terms of affection (which I don't think have ever been spelled out) seemed to come out - very loudly - at the grocery store. "Posengaze, how are we doing on cereal?!?!"

4) She hated the PTA and refused to let Porter join the "Just Say No" club because she found it sick that parents would be asked to tattle on other people's children. 

5) She never pulled punches when advising us on ways to navigate the grade school social scene:  "'Sally' is a mean little bitch because she has no self esteem. Don't let it bother you. Just wait to see what happens to her in high school."

6) She loved black licorice and Blind Robbins (not necessarily in the same snack).

7) She sent out press releases about my birthday parties.

8) She cried when I joined a sorority, saying she didn't raise a daughter to be a conformist.  A week later, after being forced to paint a plastic cup for a racist girl I never liked, I gave my pin back. We never spoke of it again.

HHH Shopping Guide: Beach

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 16 comments
Maybe it's because I grew up in Kansas, but I've never been a big fan of the beach. We always seemed to go when the jelly fish came to shore and no matter how hard I'd try, the sand always snuck itself into the most precarious zones (I watch From Here to Eternity and think of nothing but all that chaffing and the potential havoc one tiny misplaced grain of sand could wreak). That said, if I was forced towards the sun and sand, I might bring this stuff with me (it would take so long to get it all out there, that I'd barely have time to worry about a sunburn or getting salt water in my mouth):

{1} (A cruel inclusion) Out-of-stock Ralph Lauren aviators with wooden detailing;  {2} Straw Tote, Belongings.com, $48;  {3} Parasol, The Urban Garden, GBP 175; {4} Ikat Pillow, Pier 1 Imports, $17.21;  {5} La Perla Stone Detail Bikini, Net-a-Porter.com, $545;  {6} Payu Armchair, Pier 1 Imports, $299.95;  {7} Fieldcrest Luxury Mosaic Beach Towel, Target, $19.99;  {8} Elephant Table, Pier 1 Imports, $99.95;  Bonus item: Snickers*

* Our mom would always pack a few teeth-destroying frozen Snickers in the cooler when we'd go to the pool. At age three, Porter accidentally dropped hers into the deep end. Not wanting to waste candy, she ripped off her water wings and went in for the rescue.  A panic ensued as she sank like a little pink-and-white-striped stone to the bottom.  
no image

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 3 comments

The phone call came one August afternoon as my older sister Gracie and I sat out on the back porch shucking the sweet corn into the big tin buckets. The buckets were still peppered with little teeth-marks from this past spring, when Verywell, our ranch hound, became depressed and turned to eating metal. Perhaps I should clarify. When I say that Gracie and I were shucking the sweet corn, what I actually mean is that Gracie was shucking the corn and I was drawing a diagrammatic map in one of my little blue spiral notebooks of precisely how she was shucking the corn.

All of my notebooks were color-coded. The blue notebooks that neatly lined the south wall of my room were reserved for "Maps of People Doing Things," as opposed to the green notebooks on the east wall, which contained zoological, geological and topographical maps, or the red notebooks on the west wall, which was where I mapped out insect anatomy in case my mother, Dr. Clair Linneaker Spivet, ever called upon my services.

I had once tried lining maps on the south* wall of my room, but in my excitement to organize, I briefly forgot that this was where the entrance to my room was located, and when Dr. Clair opened the door to announce that dinner was ready, the bookshelf fell on my head.

I sat on my Lewis and Clark carpet, covered in notebooks and shelving. "Am I dead?" I asked, knowing that she would not tell me, even if I was.

"Never let your work trap you in a corner," Dr. Clair said through the door...

So begins THE book of the summer, (the very handsome) Reif Larsen's The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet. I'm only three pages in, but it reads like watching a Wes Anderson movie, complete with Eric Chase Anderson's drawings.  Larsen draws his own charts, maps and diagrams which fill the novel that Stephen King says "does the impossible: It combines Mark Twain, Thomas Pynchon and Little Miss Sunshine." I can't wait for pages 4-374.

* Typing things out makes one pay too much attention to detail. I think this is supposed to be north. (Let it go, HHH, let it go).
Acquisitions | Booze, Jugs, Press, Tar and a Fan

Monday, May 04, 2009 11 comments
I used to say it cost $20 to leave the house in New York (and that's a cheapo estimate).  Back during my reporter days, I lived on the Upper East Side and worked in Jersey City.  Just getting there cost fortunes.  Pre-911, it meant Subway ride to Fulton Street ($2); a walk past (and into) Century 21 (which, depending on how much I hated my outfit that day could cost anywhere from $20-$100...(I only did this a few times, but it still scared me in retrospect)); $2 PATH ride to Jersey City; coffee, $4. Post-911, Century 21 was taken out of the equation, replaced by some very good international magazine shops (~$15 for Italian Vogue).  These days, I limit myself to coffee on the way to the job, but the weekends remain deadly.  

Recent Friday-Sunday impulse buys include: Bodum 8-cup Eileen coffee maker (acquired at the organic deli down the street on a trip out for Greek yogurt); Chinese vases (acquired at Junk, after exercising when left alone by Porter for 10 minutes); Crystal Head Vodka ("Oh, Port, that was a fun movie. Let's just pop over to Astor Wines & Spirits. You know, just to look!"); TAR Magazine (on the way HOME from work on Friday...(It's incredible. INCREDIBLE! Damien Hirst dissects Kate Moss on the second issue's cover)); Gabriel Boudier Saffron Gin (tried it at my friends' apartment, and, yes, sort of the reason I wanted to go to Astor Wines); Restoration Hardware Allaire Fan (ordered at work on that steamer of a day last week after receiving a memo that we wouldn't have A/C until May 15. The A/C went on the next day as the temps dropped 30 degrees)). 
Bedroom | The Spring/Summer Conversion

Monday, May 04, 2009 17 comments
After countless months and promises to myself unkept, I've finally hung my soldiers (and replaced my little side dresser with a canvas safari-ish chair and an industrial lamp) -- but that's made everything way too beige. So, no projects being simple, I'll just have to paint (likely green!).